The objective conditions requisite for a labor movement revival are palpable: more poverty, more income inequality, more families without health insurance, more retirees without adequate pensions, not to mention the recent near-collapse of global finance. Despite conditions so ripe for unionism, the labor movement barely holds its own. Why? And what can be done about it? Does the future lie in a “transformative” (i.e., revolutionary) anticapitalist class struggle? Or does it lie closer to the roots of the current social democratic contractualism of the mainstream labor movement? Two recent books provide an opportunity for Michael Merrill to explore these questions.

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